Friday, December 2, 2016

Friday slowdown

I hope that you enjoyed this week's study. I learned a lot myself. I'm even more grateful for the Lord's blessings of health and wellness. Truly he is a great God and Father, and worthy of our praise!

O Lord my God, When I in awesome wonder,
Consider all the worlds Thy Hands have made;
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed.

Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art!

When through the woods, and forest glades I wander,
And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees.
When I look down, from lofty mountain grandeur
And see the brook, and feel the gentle breeze.

And when I think, that God, His Son not sparing;
Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in;
That on the Cross, my burden gladly bearing,
He bled and died to take away my sin.

When Christ shall come, with shout of acclamation,
And take me home, what joy shall fill my heart.
Then I shall bow, in humble adoration,
And then proclaim: "My God, how great Thou art!"

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Good stewards -- of our health, conclusion

This week we are studying the importance of good health, and the intertwining of mind, body, and spirit in us as Christians.
Are we motivated to be healthy?

Seriously, it's easy to just talk about it, but when you're staring down a gorgeous chocolate cake, all gooey and "come-hithery" on its cake-stand there on the's not so easy, is it? And someone put a knife and little plates there, and napkins so you can wipe your mouth and act innocent.

Oy vey.
Give me a moment to clear that picture from my mind.
Okay, I'm back.
God wants us to be healthy, and to have the emotional and physical energy associated with it. Why? Because we are empowered then to have more fruit in our lives, and to better use the gifts and talents that He has blessed us with. We'll be energized to serve others and to serve Him.

These verses are familiar to us:

We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. (Romans 12:6a)
Do not neglect your gift.... (I Timothy 4:10a)
Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. (I Peter 4:10)

So, good health is not an end in and of itself. Nope. It's an open door. It opens the door to using our gifts for God's kingdom: winning others to Christ, to sharing what we have with those in need, to becoming more Christ-like, and to praising Him.

Some of us may not have good health. We may have chronic conditions that try our spirits, and cause us to become frustrated and depressed. But even those with chronic illnesses can follow some simple guidelines to being as healthy as they possibly can.

1. As much as possible, follow good sleep habits. A restful routine, no "screen" time before bed, and keeping the temperature a teensy bit lower all have been found to increase effective sleep.

2. Add an exercise time to your day (if you don't already!). Simply walking for twenty to thirty minutes will release endorphins and rev your metabolism, making you feel refreshed. If you increase your time by five or ten percent each week, you're really doing great!

3. Soak after exercise. A nice, warm bath will ease any achy muscles and relieve stress, too.

4. Watch your portions. Instead of cutting out special comfort foods, cut down on the volume! One spoonful, instead of three, OK? (Grin)

5. And while we're on the subject of food, get all the stuff out of the house that you know the doctor or nutritionist would frown about. (Guess this one will have to happen after Christmas, right?) If it's not there, you won't be tempted to indulge.

6. Get to know your water bottle. It's one of your best friends for good health! Drinking extra water will increase your body's ability to handle stress, that extra exercise, and any toxins that might come your way.

7. Have a wellness buddy, if you can. Someone who will encourage you and help you when you've fallen off the wagon, too.

8. Pray about it. Seriously, tell the Lord that you want to be healthy, and you want to be an effective witness for Him.

When we have the joy of the Lord, the peace that passes understanding, and the happiness that being in His will brings, we'll be on our way to good health. It is His desire for us to enjoy the best possible health in our own situations.

I'll close with this wish that John sent to a friend. It's my wish for all of us, too:

Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well. (III John 1:2)

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Good stewards -- of our health, continued

Why worry about being healthy?
Don't we sing "This world is not my home, I'm just a-travelling through" all the time?

It seems an obvious answer, doesn't it? Be healthy so that we live longer, happier lives. But we are planning to live forever in heaven . . . why be concerned now? What's the point of stressing about health, counting calories, measuring portions, journaling our exercise data, before "forever" begins?

After all, our bodies will be changed in a twinkling, right? (Kinda looking forward to that one.)

All of that is true -- we WILL live forever, and we WILL be changed. But as we saw yesterday, there is a Biblical basis for encouraging a healthy life-style for Christians in the present.

This might not be something we want to focus on right now. Here in the United States, we just finished up a holiday (Thanksgiving) that stresses traditional foods, heavily-laden tables groaning with the weight of scrumptious dishes, and congregating in front of the television to snooze afterwards! Add to that the Christmas seasoning of eating follows on the heels of "Turkey Day" and there are office parties, church parties, Christmas cookies and eggnog, and, and, know the drill. (Grin)

Hopefully we are awake in front of our computers and ready to read, no? I was interested to read that some of the oldest and most venerated schools have advocated good health for a long time. Harvard University (1636), Oberlin College (1833), and Earlham College (1847), were all institutions of higher learning which (at the time of their founding, at least) emphasized healthful lifestyles in addition to their quest for academic excellence.
Hmmmm. Wonder why they felt that it was important for a healthy physical body to accompany a sharp mind and a fervent spirit?
Well, from the beginning, we humans were created as whole beings: body, mind, and spirit. The whole package, so to speak.
Today, science and medicine confirm this "whole being" idea, because more and more people are recognizing that illness in one part of the body has an impact on all other parts. On the negative side, heart disease affects the brain. Depression affects spiritual thoughts. Stress and spiritual restlessness can affect blood pressure, blood glucose, and mental agility.
On the positive side, the Bible tells us:
A cheerful heart is good medicine,    but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. (Proverbs 17:22)
And even the description of how Jesus grew and matured is noted in terms of the whole person:
And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man. (Luke 2:52)
I reckon ('scuse my country showing there) that if we were to express things in scientific terms, the human body is here to house and maintain the brain. The brain is how we communicate with God, and with other people. And any defects in the physical body will mess up our brain and how it functions. So this really applies to everyone here on this earth -- if we keep our bodies healthy, our minds and our relationships will be healthy, too.

Whoa, partner. We Christians don't live just for ourselves, though. From the day we accept God's gift of grace and forgiveness, we live in a special relationship with "the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit." (Matthew 28)
So, if we take the whole person idea into this new relationship, we can see a very special and important meaning in one of our focus verses from before:
Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own... (I Corinthians 6:19)
Look right above your head. See that light bulb?
Good! That means you got the idea!
Christians are not free to do whatever they choose with their bodies. Their bodies belong to God, and not just to themselves anymore.
That one was important. Go back and read it again....
Paul told us this:
So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. (I Corinthians 10:31)
For us as believers, the power inside that enables us to follow God can be affected (positively or negatively) by such simple things as what we eat or drink. By whether or not we exercise.

(Kinda puts a different angle on whether or not to scarf down that plate of sugar cookies, or the extra slice of cheesecake....or whether to drink our third cup of eggnog (and ask if it was dosed with alcohol),....or whether or not to get out in the frosty cold and walk briskly. I know, right? I'm preaching to myself here, and my toes are busted.)

As believers who want to be useful to God, to bring glory to Him, our decision to learn and implement healthy lifestyle choices is important. It needs to be on our list, right behind our commitment to read our Bible and pray, and to love our neighbors. If we want to be complete and effective witnesses for Him, we'll give our attention to the health of the whole person -- our mind, body and spirit.

We'll finish our study tomorrow!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Prayer requests

Remember being in school, and facing a problem that you just could not solve?

Maybe it was in math.

Maybe it was English. Diagramming sentences, right?

Maybe it was algebra.

Try as you might, no matter how long you stared at it, you just couldn't solve it.

We have those feelings in our lives today, no? Are we staring at a problem that we can't solve? Can't figure out a solution, no matter how hard we try? Our struggles just bring more stress, and more depression?

It's OK. You can give up now. No, I really mean it!

It's time to give up, let go, and let God.

Our Savior knows all about the problem. He also knows the answer. And (and this is the important part) He is strong enough to make the solution happen!

A dear lady who was like a mother to me said these were her life verses:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
These verses are some that I've clung to, when I've faced problems that I absolutely could not solve:
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. (Psalm 46:1-3)
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (II Corinthians 12:9)
I know that we've talked about this before, but I can't escape the feeling that the Spirit wants me to post this today. Perhaps someone reading this is bowed under a problem and needs to hear this. He delights in the requests of His children. He loves to show us His strength, His mercy, and His compassion. He will truly care about your request, and He will show you a way to solve that problem.

Let us know if we can pray with you today. He will hear, and He will work in our lives. And let's not forget to praise Him when the problem is solved!

Monday, November 28, 2016

Good stewards -- of our health

When we were studying purity, the end of our study had us looking at verses in Colossians and in Galatians. We were thinking along the lines of focusing our thoughts and using strategies to keep out of "the dirt."

At the close of that study, it occurred to me that we also need to keep our "temples" out of the dirt, too. To be good stewards of what we've been blessed with.
Did ya know that the Bible talks about that, too?
Ain't it awesome that we can find most anything in there? (Grin)

I know that some of us have some health issues. Some of us are healthy as horses, as my Grandma used to say.  It always made me wonder, why horses?  But I digress.

I guess that good health, or being a good steward of these miraculously designed coverings that we call our bodies, is something that we sometimes take for granted -- that is, until something starts to go wrong! Why do I feel fatigued? What is that bump on my forehead? What is wrong with me?

When our health takes a turn, we usually are quick to look at our own habits and diet. Our bodies really are finely tuned by our Maker, and they're able to endure fractures, scrapes, fever, and pain. But we actually are kinda fragile: we aren't designed to handle excess, whether it's nourishment, stress, or additives. If we were machines, we'd probably pay close attention to the fuel we put in, the poisons that we allowed, regular cleanings and the like.

Hmmmm. Are we doing at least what we'd do with machines, when it comes to these bodies of ours? What kind of fuel is going in? What kind of stress are we enduring? Are we keeping clean physically, mentally, and spiritually?

God has provided us with an "owner's manual" in our Bible. There are instructions there for proper "maintenance." It's not a medical journal. It's not a memo from the Center for Disease Control. But we can find basic principles for individual health and for public health, as well. An awful lot of the laws given by God to Moses contain rules that effectively ensure healthful living: they outlined water and food contamination, sewage disposal, infectious diseases, and much more.

Here is an interesting verse about the health of the children of Israel (and about the health of the Egyptians):
He said, “If you listen carefully to the Lord your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keepall his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord, who heals you.” (Exodus 15:26)
Lots of people are intrigued by the tombs of the Pharaohs, the mummies, and that ancient culture. The Egyptians suffered from many diseases that have ravaged populations throughout history. The mummies have revealed evidences of arthritis, cancer, gallstones, heart disease, and smallpox. Many of these were because they didn't understand the health principles that were given to Moses by God. These instructions were based on true science; they were based on cause and effect thousands of years before scientists discovered germs, bacteria, and viruses. Modern medicine has re-discovered many principles of good health that originated with God.

A couple of years ago, we studied the book of Proverbs here, and read this:
My son, do not forget my teaching,    but keep my commands in your heart,for they will prolong your life many years    and bring you peace and prosperity.This will bring health to your body    and nourishment to your bones. (Proverbs 3:1-2,8)
Obedience to God's commandments and other laws promotes health. For when we obey, we are operating in accordance with His "owner's manual." And as our Creator, He knows what is best for us.

Now, before we go any further this week, let's make one thing perfectly clear: the Bible tells us that those who follow God will generally be healthy. That does not necessarily mean that those who don't follow Him will always be sick!
Nor does it mean that God's people will be free from disease.
The apostle John wrote:
Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well. (III John 1:2)
And Paul wrote this:
 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own;you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. (I Corinthians 6:19-20)
God is interested most in our spiritual health, but He does want us, as much as possible, to be physically healthy as well. This week we'll focus on these thoughts.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Thanksgiving week, United States

This week is the United States' celebration of Thanksgiving. I hope all of you enjoy a peaceful and blessed week, and that we all take time to praise our Father.

He has blessed us so abundantly; His love and mercy surround us each day.

Some of my posts may be humorous, and my style may border on irreverent at times, in order to get a point across, or to make a concept memorable.

But I'm serious here -- make it a point to praise Him, and set an example for those you love. His love is overwhelming; He blesses us and blesses us again.

Thank you, Father. With all my heart, I'm grateful.

I'll see y'all next week!

Friday, November 18, 2016

Friday slowdown

The 51st Psalm always makes me remember the old hymn, "Whiter than Snow." As I looked for a song to place here today, I found this uplifting music from a wonderful Jamaican artist. I hope it blesses your heart as it did mine.

Blessed be the fountain of blood
To a world of sinners revealed
Blessed be the dear Son of God
Only by His stripes we are healed
Tho I've wandered far from His fold
Bringing to my heart pain and woe
Wash me in the blood of the Lamb
And I shall be whiter than snow

Whiter than the snow
Whiter than the snow
Wash me in the blood of the Lamb
And I shall be whiter than snow

Thorny was the crown that He wore
And the cross His body o'ercame
Grievous were the sorrows He bore
But He suffered Thus not in vain
May I to that fountain be led
Made to cleanse my sins here below
Wash me in the blood that He shed
And I shall be whiter than snow

Father, I have wandered from Thee
Often has my heart gone astray
Crimson do my sins seem to me
Water cannot wash them away
Jesus, to the fountain of Thine
Leaning on Thy promise, I go
Cleanse me by Thy washing divine
And I shall be whiter than snow